VCE Testimony to Senate Finance Committee on S.52 and PSB public participation

Testimony of Annette Smith, Vermonters for a Clean Environment S. 52

Vermont Senate Finance Committee
Feb. 7, 2016

My name is Annette Smith. I am Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. Thank you Madam Chair and the Committee for inviting my testimony today. For the last two years I have worked with Vermonters involved with solar projects to assist them in participating in the process at the Public Service Board. For nearly eight years I have worked with Vermonters involved with wind projects and have assisted towns and neighbors with their participation at the PSB. I have also worked with Vermonters on biomass plant applications to the PSB.

Senators Lyons, MacDonald, and Sirotkin may recall I asked to testify to this committee last year, after the Attorney General’s investigation — following up on a complaint that I was engaged in the unlicensed practice of law by assisting Vermonters in participation at the PSB — was closed. The summary of my testimony was that the AG’s investigation proved that the PSB is a legal process and the public gives up rights when they attempt to participate without a lawyer, and the public needs a lawyer.

The day after my testimony, the PSB Working Group was added to S.230, which became S.260 and enacted as Act 174. I was invited to present to the Act 174 Working Group and offered substantive input on problems and solutions.1 S.52 proposes amendments related to PSB proceedings based on the recommendations of the Working Group. The purpose of S.52 relates to the public’s access to PSB proceedings.

Before I comment on the specifics in S. 52, I would like to offer some new perspective on the challenges that Vermonters who are neighbors of proposed renewable energy projects face when confronted with a project in their community. These challenges extend to towns and regions, not just neighbors.

My thinking on this topic has evolved in the last year, and especially in recent days because of a recent PSB Order. I have realized that the problems the Vermont public experiences with the PSB process go beyond the specifics of what happens during PSB proceedings, and are much more extensive due to the statutes put in place by this legislature, the way the PSB is interpreting those statutes, and the PSB’s ability to make a finding of “the public good”, which is not defined.

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The Kafkaesque world of windmill neighbors

Annette Smith: The Kafkaesque world of windmill neighbors 

Mon, 01/30/2017

by Annette Smith

 The definition of “Kafkaesque”: “Describing something that is horribly complicated for no reason, usually in reference to bureaucracy.” Neighbors of operating and proposed wind projects are watching in disbelief as they witness the Public Service Board (PSB) issue Orders affirming the rights of the wind industry while putting neighbors through expensive, time-consuming legal processes that tramples neighbors’ rights and provide no relief.  Continue reading

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CCTV Ch. 17 interview with Annette Smith of VCE, Jan. 25, 2017

click on image to view video


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High Elevation Stormwater System on Lowell Wind, Testimony in House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee

Video of testimony by Kevin Burke of ANR, Jeff Nelson of VHB, Justin Lindholm of VCE, and Geoffrey Goll of Princeton Hydro for VCE, Jan 26, 2017.  The testimony is about the experimental high elevation stormwater system on the Lowell Mountains, for Green Mountain Power’s Lowell Wind project.

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Sheffield Wind Noise Complaint, PSB Technical Hearing

Video of PSB Technical Hearing on Paul Brouha’s Noise Complaint regarding UPC/First Wind/SunEdison/TerraformPower/Brookfield Energy(who owns this project?), Jan. 25, 2017.

Part One.  Morning session.  Gap of about an hour prior to the break for lunch.

Part Two. Afternoon session.

To be continued at the PSB Hearing Room in Montpelier, 10 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.

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Jason Day, Starwind Turbines, PSB Pre-Hearing Conference for Wardsboro, Vt. Project

Video of PSB’s Pre-hearing Conference for Jason Day’s Starwind Turbine proposal for Wardsboro, Vt.  Jan. 13, 2017.

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PSB Wind Noise Rule Workshops

Video of First PSB Wind Noise Rule Workshop, Dec. 2, 2016

Video of Second PSB Wind Noise Rule Workshop, Jan. 9, 2017

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